In reading Dale Chu’s recent Flypaper column entitled “The endangered, reform-oriented district chief,” I was struck by his post mortem concerning the era of strong school district leadership.
The analysis is spot on, I'd argue, with one major exception. He presented a solid list of reform superintendents, starting with Denver’s Tom Boasberg, who recently announced his departure, and listed his contemporaries who once served in other big cities, including “Joel Klein, Dwight Jones, Michelle Rhee, Terry Grier, Andres Alonso, and Mike Miles, among others.”
In referring to all of them in the past tense, Chu lamented: “Visionary superintendents in this mold are getting harder and harder to find. At a moment when states and districts arguably need braver leaders than ever before, why have they gone into hiding?”
My challenge is in the case of Mike Miles, former superintendent of Dallas Independent School District, whose systemic reforms were so effective they continue to benefit students and teachers long after he is gone.
But rather than putting his head down since leaving what Chu describes as the “hot seat,” he instead stuck his neck out. He went from high-impact district superintendent to brazen charter school entrepreneur with the experience,...